Bayer CropScience Horticulture Symposium Builds Relationships

Bayer CropScience Horticulture Symposium Builds Global Relationships for Collaborative Problem-Solving

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

 

Nearly 200 professionals in the horticultural industry from across the food chain and the value chain, and from Europe and North, Central and South America, gathered this week at the Bayer CropScience Horticulture Symposium in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Attendees were treated to an inspirational mix of lectures, panel discussions, as well as an interactive poster session, all incorporating forward-thinking sustainable practices into contemporary agriculture. Among the crops discussed were tomatoes, citrus, grapes, potatoes, bananas.

Rob Schrick, strategic management lead, Bayer CropScience Horticulture, based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, said the event was the company’s second in a series of horticulture symposiums focused on international collaboration and problem-solving. “This is about bringing the best and brightest from across our industry,” said Schrick, “from influencers and universities to industry members like ourselves and the media. It’s about getting these creative minds together and discussing solutions. The solutions may not come from the symposium itself, but the connections that are made—you don’t know what will yield from those relationships.”

Jim Chambers, director of marketing, Bayer CropScience Food Production, said the Horticulture Symposium was all about sharing information on best management practices. “Bayer is a leader in the crop protection business within the horticultural space around the world, and this is a real opportunity to bring all of us within horticulture across the food chain and the value chain to talk, from the grower, to the processor, and to the consumer. It is a wonderful opportunity to work together to solve some very difficult challenges.”

“And, vivid to all attendees, was that members of the fruit and vegetable industry throughout the Americas have similar challenges to overcome,” noted Chambers. “It was very interesting; the issues that we talk and hear about in the specialty crop states such as California, Florida and Texas, are very much the same issues that people, for example in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, or Central America, are facing. These issues do not go across just states or counties; they reach across the globe in solving these problems,” Chambers said.

Among the speakers were growers, commodity specialists from the industry and academia, and experts on sustainability practices, professionals on Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs), Bayer CropScience specialists and major agricultural association leaders such as Tom Nassif, ceo, Western Growers Association (WGA) and Dana Merrill, president, Mesa Vineyard Management Inc.

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Bayer CropScience, the subgroup of Bayer AG responsible for the agricultural business, is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of seeds, crop protection and non-agricultural pest control. The company offers an outstanding range of products including high value seeds, innovative crop protection solutions based on chemical and biological modes of action as well as an extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture. 

(Photo features Rob Schrick, Bayer CropScience – Horticulture strategic management lead)

Lygus Bug Control in Strawberries

Lygus Bug Control in Strawberries Can Prevent Significant Damage

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Adult Lygus Bug, Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM
Adult lygus bug, Lygus hesperus.
(Photo by Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM)

In the coastal areas of California where the majority of strawberries are grown, the top pest pressure comes from the lygus bugHillary Thomas, senior production research manager with Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission, works on lygus bug control in strawberries, as it causes significant damage to the crop each season.

“We conservatively attribute between $150 and $250 million in damage each year to the lygus bug alone,” Thomas said. “We have only a few tools to handle this pest, including insecticide and vacuums, that can be used for the strawberry industry.”

Thomas explained vacuum use is widespread by both conventional and organic growers despite its drawbacks, beginning with the huge investment required by the grower. The vacuum is generally tractor-mounted with three or four vacuum fume hoods to one hydraulic system, and the entire vacuum system runs off the tractor’s PTO (power takeoff). The vacuum is so difficult to remove, it is typically installed on the tractor for the entire season.

Therefore, current research aims to make the vaccuum more useful, according to Thomas, by focusing on technological innovations to improve vacuum efficiency. She explained, “We are literally trying to suck up as many bugs as possible by moving the largest cubic volume of air and killing all the insects that move through the vacuum. We have created some standard operating procedures for vacuums as well as recommended short-term modifications to improve their efficiency by 25 percent. The Commission has also developed a series of trainings to disseminate information on the best management practices vacuums for growers.

Celery Management Research

Andre Biscaro on Celery Management Research to Improve Water and Nitrogen Use

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

logo-celery-sm

Ongoing research continually improves the agriculture industry. Andre Biscaro, agriculture and environmental issues advisor at the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, described current trials in celery management research, sponsored by the California Celery Research Advisory Board.

“We’re monitoring water and nitrogen use based on best management practices,” Biscaro said. “We evaluate ‘best management’ practices using the soil nitrate quick test. That gives us a really good estimate of how much nitrogen is in the soil, and we can accomplish the test in just about an hour.” The trial also incorporates data from weather stations to calculate the amount of applied water.

Celery“This trial and research actually monitors the amount of water and nitrogen we’re using and how much yield we’re getting under various best management scenarios,” Biscaro said, “and compares our practices to what the grower usually does.” Ultimately, the trial will help determine the yield of a celery field using best management practices, and how much water and nitrogen are required to achieve that yield.

Biscaro said the grower he has been working with to conduct the trial was already highly successful with soil and water management in the specific celery field under study. “He really knew what he was doing, and the nitrogen management was quite decent as well. So I believe there are opportunities for improvement in the industry, but the grower was actually doing quite well in this particular field I monitored.”

 

CDFA ACCEPTING CONCEPT PROPOSALS FOR 2015 FERTILIZER RESEARCH AND EDUCATION GRANTS

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) is currently accepting concept proposals for the 2015 grant cycle. FREP’s competitive grant program funds research that advances the environmentally safe and agronomically sound use of fertilizing materials.

The 2015 Request for Proposals (RFP) includes several initiatives put forth by the department to help effectively manage nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture. New this year is a call for integrating different aspects of nutrient management, including fertigation, irrigation, crop development and soil fertility into easy-to-use decision making tools and concepts that can help improve management practices. Additionally, the FREP seeks concepts and proposals to provide strong education and outreach opportunities on effectively and efficiently managing fertilizing materials.

Proposals for research projects are requested to fill gaps in nitrogen management information for specific crops, including corn, pima cotton, processing tomatoes, walnuts, citrus, and deep rooted vegetables such as carrots. Furthermore, the FREP is encouraging the development and submission of concepts that will demonstrate effective nutrient management practices that have been developed through experimental research trials (e.g., prior FREP research findings).

These demonstrations should implement practices at the field scale in organic and conventional fertilizers. Other priority research areas are developing Best Management Practices (BMPs), along with evaluating strategies and potential technologies to increase crop nitrogen fertilizer uptake; reduce nitrogen movement off irrigated agricultural lands, including nitrate leaching below the root zone; and minimize nitrous oxide emissions from nitrogen fertilizers.

Applicants are invited to submit two-page concept proposals to the FREP by Friday, January 16, 2015. Concepts submitted should be in line with at least one of the program’s identified priority research areas. Further information on the 2015 FREP request for concept proposals, including timelines, application criteria, priority research areas, and examples of successful proposals are available at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep/CompetitiveGrantProgram.html

In addition to the FREP’s regular RFP, CDFA is preparing a special RFP as part of its nitrogen initiatives. The priority areas for this special RFP are scheduled to be announced early January 2015. 

All concept proposals will be reviewed by the FREP’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TASC). Concept proposals that are selected by the TASC will be invited for development into full project proposals.

Applicants may also send e-mail inquiries to FREP@cdfa.ca.gov

Since 1990, the Fertilizer Research and Education Program has funded more than 160 research projects focusing on California’s important and environmentally sensitive cropping systems. A database of completed and ongoing research is publically available at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep.html

In collaboration with the University of California Davis, FREP is developing fertilization guidelines for major crops grown in California. The guidelines are uploaded on a flow basis and are available to growers and crop advisors through this web-based platform: http://apps.cdfa.ca.gov/frep/docs/guidelines.html

USDA to Help Farmers Diversify Weed Control Efforts

USDA Addresses Herbicide Resistant Weed Control

Edited by California Ag Today

 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced TODAY the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking steps to address the increase of herbicide resistant weeds in the country’s agricultural systems.

In California, glyphosate resistant weeds are found throughout the state, and growers are warned to minimize using the material back-to-back during weed control. More information can be found http://info.ucanr.org/weed_sept/.

“Weed control in major crops is almost entirely accomplished with herbicides today,” said Vilsack. “USDA, working in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, must continue to identify ways to encourage producers to adopt diverse tactics for weed management in addition to herbicide control. The actions we are taking today are part of this effort.”

To help farmers manage their herbicide-resistant weeds more holistically and sustainably:

  • USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer financial assistance under its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for herbicide resistant weed control practices that utilize Integrated Pest Management plans and practices.
  • Later this year NRCS will be soliciting proposals under the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program for innovative conservation systems that address herbicide resistant weeds.
  • USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will actively promote use of best management practices (BMPs) in design protocols for regulated authorized releases of genetically engineered (GE) crops and will include recommendations for BMPs with the authorization of field trials of HR crops.
  • USDA is partnering with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) and is providing funds to develop education and outreach materials for various stakeholders on managing herbicide resistant weeds. The Secretary has directed Dr. Sheryl Kunickis, Director of the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy, as the point person leading this effort with the USDA.

 

USDA works with the EPA

The issue of herbicide resistant weeds has become one of increasing importance for agriculture. When herbicides are repeatedly used to control weeds, the weeds that survive herbicide treatment can multiply and spread.

With EPA’s announcement TODAY on the registration of new uses for herbicide mixtures containing the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate (in the Enlist® formulation) in conjunction with new genetically-engineered crop varieties, farmers have more tools for improved management of emerging populations of herbicide-resistant weeds in corn and soybeans crops. In its decision for 2,4-D use on genetically modified corn and soybean, EPA has outlined new requirements for registrants as part of a product stewardship program.

The USDA Office of Pest Management Policy worked with EPA to address the issue of herbicide resistance through appropriate label language that will require registrants to develop a stewardship program for the herbicide, develop training and education on proper use of the product that includes diversifying weed management, investigate and report nonperformance, and develop and implement a remediation plan for suspected herbicide resistant weeds.

EPA intends to require the same stewardship plans for all new applications for product registration on genetically modified crops with the goal being to encourage effective resistance management while maintaining needed flexibility for growers.

USDA recognizes that the problem of herbicide resistant weed control will not be solved solely through the application of new herbicides. USDA has worked with the Weed Science Society of America for a number of years on identifying best management practices for farmers and on addressing impediments to adoption of those practices.

USDA will continue to work to ensure that growers have the diverse tools they need to address the management of herbicide resistant weeds.

Sources: USDA, CDFA